Angora fire contained ahead of schedule | SierraSun.com

Angora fire contained ahead of schedule

Jeff Munson
Sun News Service

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE ” With millions of dollars in devastation and more than 3,000 people displaced, a sliver of good news prevailed on Monday when officials declared 100 percent containment of the Angora fire, a day ahead of schedule.

With management of the fire left to the hands of the U.S. Forest Service’s Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, the work now is multi-faceted, with 310 firefighters left to control the fire, dousing every last burning ember. That process could take weeks, fire officials say.

An illegal campfire was determined to be the cause. The Angora fire started at 2:14 p.m. on June 24 and has burned 3,100 acres, destroyed 254 homes, damaged dozens of structures and displaced about 3,500 residents. The cost of fighting the fire is at $11.3 million and is expected to grow.

El Dorado County is estimating the property loss so far at $160 million.

Crews are using infrared technology to monitor and secure fire lines, said Chuck Dixon, spokesman for the fire’s Incident Command Post on his last day on the Angora job.

“Line improvement and mop up activities continue 400 feet into the interior of the line. The Burned Area Emergency Response Team will begin their assessment of the burned area, focusing on emergency stabilization of the watershed,” he said.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued an executive order directing state agencies to help Angora wildfire victims to begin clean up and restoration efforts. He also said it’s time to evaluate the fire at all levels of government.

“With the fire now out, we’re turning our attention to restoring the damage,” a Schwarzenegger aide told the Tahoe Daily Tribune. “We want to work with (Nevada) Gov. Gibbons, the federal government, legislators and local officials to find the best, most expedient way to achieve that. Finding the right solution is a top priority for the governor, and we are in conversations now about achieving this important goal.”

The governor also called on Californians to be cautious over the Fourth of July holiday as the state experiences extremely high temperatures and dry conditions.

Meanwhile, fire activity remained light on Monday and the same is predicted for today. Winds will range from 5 to 10 mph with temperatures in the mid-70s. Smoke will continue to be visible within the fire area. However, these interior smokes are deep within the fire and are not a threat to the fireline.

A forest closure order for the burned area is in effect through Nov. 30. All trails and roads leading into the burned area on forest system lands are closed to the public.

Within the Lake Tahoe Basin, campfires are only allowed within hosted fee campgrounds. No open fires or charcoal barbecues will be allowed on public lands. Only propane stoves are allowed with a 2007 fire permit. No fireworks are allowed in any area.

Current fire information can be obtained by calling the Lake Tahoe Basin Forest Supervisor’s office: 543-2600 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Sierra Pacific Power crews are gaining ground on repairing the damage in the North Upper Truckee area where the Angora fire destroyed 15,000 feet of line, 71 power poles and 28 electric transformers. All but two poles and three transformers have been fixed. About 100 customers that can be serviced in the Tahoe Paradise and Tahoe Mountain were without power.